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US Olympic Women's Swimming Team 2012: Updated News, Roster and Analysis

Darin PikeContributor IJuly 6, 2012

US Olympic Women's Swimming Team 2012: Updated News, Roster and Analysis

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    The women's U.S. Olympic swimming team will head to London with one simple goal in mind. They want to dominate in the Olympic pool.

    The unit is battle-tested following fierce competition at the 2012 Olympic Trials. They have several individuals primed for gold-medal runs, and the relay teams should be even better than the 2011 FINA World Championship entries.

    The following slides present the entire women's Olympic team with a forecast on whom they will face in London, along with some predictions on how they should fare.

Individual Qualifiers

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    The U.S. Olympic team will consist of the following swimmers chasing individual medals. Included are their times in each final heat, along with the current world records, American records and the fastest times of 2012.

     

    50-Meter Freestyle

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Jessica Hardy

    24.50

    23.73

    24.13

    24.10

    Kara Lynn Joyce

    24.73

     

     

     

     

     

    100-Meter Freestyle

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Jessica Hardy

    53.96

    52.07

    53.02

    52.75

    Missy Franklin

    54.15

     

     

     

     

     

    200-Meter Freestyle

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Allison Schmitt

    1:54.40

    1:52.98

    1:54.40

    1:54.40

    Missy Franklin

    1:56.79

     

     

     

     

     

    400-Meter Freestyle

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Allison Schmitt

    4:02.84

    3:59.15

    4:02.20

    4:01.13

    Chloe Sutton

    4:04.18

     

     

     

     

     

    800-Meter Freestyle

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Kathleen Ledecky

    8:19.78

    8:14.10

    8:16.22

    8:18.54

    Kate Ziegler

    8:21.87

     

     

     

     

     

    200-Meter Individual Medley

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Caitlin Leverenz

    2:10.22

    2:06.15

    2:06.15

    2:09.38

    Ariana Kukors

    2:11.30

     

     

     

     

     

    400-Meter Individual Medley

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Elizabeth Beisel

    4:31.74

    4:29.45

    4:31.12

    4:31.74

    Caitlin Leverenz

    4:34.48

     

     

     

     

     

    100-Meter Backstroke

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Missy Franklin

    58.85

    58.12

    58.94

    58.85

    Rachel Bootsma

    59.49

     

     

     

     

     

    200-Meter Backstroke

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Missy Franklin

    2:06.12

    2:04.81

    2:05.10

    2:06.12

    Elizabeth Beisel

    2:07.58

     

     

     

     

     

    100-Meter Breaststroke

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Breeja Larson

    1:05.92

    1:04.45

    1:04.45

    1:05.82

    Rebecca Soni

    1:05.99

     

     

     

     

     

    200-Meter Breaststroke

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Rebecca Soni

    2:21.13

    2:20.12

    2:20.22

    2:21.13

    Micah Lawrence

    2:23.03

     

     

     

     

     

    100-Meter Butterfly

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Dana Vollmer

    56.50

    56.06

    56.42

    56.42

    Claire Donahue

    57.57

     

     

     

     

     

    200-Meter Butterfly

    Swimmer

    Time

    W.R.

    A.R.

    Top ‘12

    Cammile Adams

    2:06.52

    2:01.81

    2:04.14

    2:04.69

    Kathleen Hersey

    2:07.72

     

     

     

Key Athletes

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    The U.S. Olympic swimming team has been dominant since being out-swam by East Germany in 1988. The women will do their part to continue that streak in 2012. 

    The team will be without Natalie Coughlin in an individual event, though, as her best finish was third in the 200-meter backstroke.

    However, Coughlin can tie Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres with a 12th Olympic medal as part of the 4x100-meter free relay team. Her sixth-place finish in the 100-meter free qualified her for the team.

    Torres, age 45, came up just short of making her sixth Olympic games. She finished fourth in the 25-meter free.

    The following swimmers will headline the U.S. efforts.

     

    Missy Franklin

    Following an impressive U.S. Olympic Trials, Franklin will be the leading woman. She qualified for a U.S. women's-record seven events in London.

    The 17-year-old is realistically expected to medal in five of them, all of which could be gold. She took home five medals at last year's world games.

    Franklin is from Centennial, Colo., and is scheduled to swim in the 100- and 200-meter freestyle, the 100- and 200-meter backstroke and three relay events. 

    Franklin has the fastest times in the world for her two backstroke events, but will need to improve her times considerably to be competitive in the two freestyle races.

     

    Allison Schmitt

    The U.S. will be well-represented in the freestyle races. Schmitt took first at the 200- and 400-meter distances, posting two of the fastest times in the world for 2012.

    She broke her own American record for the 200-meter freestyle with a time of 1:54.40.

    "I didn't feel like I was on my record pace, but I could hear the crowd," Schmitt said after the race (h/t Sporting News). "And when I touched and saw the flames go off, I was pretty excited before I even looked up and saw the time."

    Dana Vollmer and Lauren Perdue finished third and fourth, securing spots with Schmitt and Franklin on the 800-meter relay team.

     

    Rebecca Soni

    Soni set the standard at the U.S. Trials in the breaststroke. She set the fastest times of the year at the Olympic Trials for 100- and 200-meters.

    After setting a world-best mark for 2012 in the semifinals, she finished just behind Breeja Larson in the 100-meter race.

    They have two of the fastest times in 2012 and will be the best shot the U.S. has at taking gold and sliver in a women's swimming event.

Key Events

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    The U.S. team has a specific focus on the relay races. They will be a favorite to take gold in all three events, with their biggest competition coming from Australia.

    Team USA took the gold medals in the 4x200-meter free and the 4x100-meter medley at the the 2011 World Championships.

    They finished a half-second behind the Netherlands in the 4x100-meter free for silver.

    Short of a disqualification, the team will medal in all three events. Their goal will be to avenge the loss to the Netherlands and secure a trio of gold medals in the relays in London.

    The other story line with be Franklin's pursuit of seven events. She won't be a favorite in the freestyle events, but could take gold in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke.

Toughest Competitors

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    The U.S. women will face their biggest competition from Australia, the Netherlands and China. Great Britain, Russia and Japan will also figure into the medals standings in several events.

    Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Netherlands, has been one of the fastest women in the water in 2012. She has set the fastest times in the 50- and 100-meter free and will be one of the gold-medal favorites in those events.

    Therese Alshammar from Sweden was the 2011 FINA World Champion at 50-meters and will look to repeat in London.

    The butterfly events will see strong competition from the Asian teams. Natsumi Hoshi (Japan) has been dominant at 200 meters and she'll be challenged by a pair of swimmers from China. 

    Ellen Gandy (England) will be a factor at both distances.

    Japan's Satomi Suzuki is the biggest threat from keeping the U.S. from going one-two in both breaststroke events.  While she is well off Soni's times, she barely edged out Lawrence for the second-best time on the year at 200 meters.

    Russia's Anastasia Zueva has posted the closest marks to Franklin in the backstroke. She will be favored to take silver at 100- and 200-meters.

Worst-Case Scenario

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    The U.S. women will be leaning quite heavily on a few swimmers. There is no reason to expect poor performance, but should Franklin or Schmitt have an off-competition, the team as a whole will suffer.

    The relay teams (barring disqualification) will have at least one gold and two silvers.

    Where the U.S. is vulnerable is the freestyle events.

    Team USA could realistically be kept off the podium in four of the five distances. This would put an obvious damper on their medal expectations, but the team should be prepared for difficult competition in the free.

    Their only relatively safe distance is 200 meters, where Schmitt has been very strong and holds the fastest time of 2012.

    Still, Schmitt took sixth at the 2011 World Championships and could be vulnerable in London.

    In the 16 events, it is possible for the U.S. to capture as few as eight medals.

Best-Case Scenario

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    Things could go very well for the women's team in London. There were several disappointments at the 2011 World Championships, and the American women will enter the pool with a chip on their shoulder to re-assert themselves as the fastest team in the world.

    The best-case for the relays is also their expectation...three gold medals.

    It is difficult to project many medals in the freestyle events, but Jessica Hardy, Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin could surprise the competition. 

    While incredibly optimistic, they could secure up to six medals in the five freestyle events.

    The U.S. could snag a pair of medals in the two individual medleys, but there will be intense competition from Australia, China and Great Britain.

    The U.S. team has a real opportunity to pad their medal count in the backstroke and breaststroke. They could snag up to six or seven medals in the four events, with Franklin and Soni each chasing a pair of golds. 

    The butterfly races could bring two more medals, giving the U.S. women a potential haul of up to 20 medals. With 13 individual races and three relays, the maximum a country can win is 29.

Predictions

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    While not quite the best-case scenario, I am taking an optimistic look at the U.S. team's expectations in London. Led by two individual medals for Franklin and Soni, I'm predicting a total haul of 15 medals.

    The American team is motivated and talented and should be prepped for the difficult stretches in London.

    Discussing Franklin's aggressive plans to swim in seven events, women's coach Teri McKeever said "I'm comfortable if they're comfortable and trust both of their judgments and (coach) Todd (Schmitz) in working with her. I'm just continually more and more impressed with her. She's 17 years old, but she's a professional and handled this meet like a seasoned professional and she's going to be able to do it."

    The Netherlands and Australia could spoil the party, but here is the predicted medal tally and results by race:

    Gold: 10
    Silver:   1
    Bronze:   4

    4x100-meter free relay: Gold 

    4x200-meter free relay: Gold 

    4x100-meter medley relay: Gold

    50-meter freestyle: Jessica Hardy, Bronze 

    200-meter freestyle: Allison Schmitt, Gold

    200-meter individual medley: Caitlin Leverenz, Bronze

    400-meter individual medley: Elizabeth Beisel, Gold

    100-meter backstroke: Missy Franklin, Gold

    200-meter backstroke: Missy Franklin, Gold and Elizabeth Beisel, Bronze

    100-meter breaststroke: Rebecca Soni, Gold and Breeja Larson, Silver

    200-meter breaststroke: Rebecca Soni, Gold and Micah Lawrence, Bronze

    100-meter fly: Dana Vollmer, Gold

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